Information on B. A. Rolfe's Lucky Strike Program

Information on B. A. Rolfe's Lucky Strike Program

Linda
Linda

September 4th, 2009, 12:03 am #1

B. A. Rolfe's Lucky Strike Program on NBC was the main competitor to Paul Whiteman's Old Gold show on CBS. I even read that CBS execs had Paul Whiteman play more commercial arrangements to compete with Rolfe's show. I knew the Old Gold show was on CBS on Tuesday night. But I always wondered what night the Lucky Strike show was on and at what hour? Plus I had never seen any pictures of the Lucky Strike Orchestra. I recently won a magazine on ebay from 1929 called "What's On The Air" and there was a full page devoted to the Rolfe Lucky Strike show with even a picture of the orchestra! Here is the scan of the page from the magazine. I really wanted to share this scan with the group. This is great information on the Lucky Strike Show in that magazine. I like the line "EVEN--the preachers children 'Listen In'


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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 4th, 2009, 12:24 am #2


WBIX # 17

Between Paul Whiteman and B. A. Rolfe.

http://bixography.com/wbix17.ram

Tomorrow I will upload New York Times articles about Rolfe.

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 4th, 2009, 6:53 pm #3

B. A. Rolfe's Lucky Strike Program on NBC was the main competitor to Paul Whiteman's Old Gold show on CBS. I even read that CBS execs had Paul Whiteman play more commercial arrangements to compete with Rolfe's show. I knew the Old Gold show was on CBS on Tuesday night. But I always wondered what night the Lucky Strike show was on and at what hour? Plus I had never seen any pictures of the Lucky Strike Orchestra. I recently won a magazine on ebay from 1929 called "What's On The Air" and there was a full page devoted to the Rolfe Lucky Strike show with even a picture of the orchestra! Here is the scan of the page from the magazine. I really wanted to share this scan with the group. This is great information on the Lucky Strike Show in that magazine. I like the line "EVEN--the preachers children 'Listen In'

Announcement of the Lucky Strike radio program.



B. A. Rolfe at the Palace.

<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/Saga.jpg"></font>

<font color="#000000">More about B. A. Rolfe at the Palace.


<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/SweetJazz.jpg">

Humor. B. A Rolfe emphasizes humor as the center piece of his dance music. Just like Bix about jazz in his newspaper interview. Rolfe gives a jab to Whiteman (without naming him) in discussing the adaptation of classics to dance music.

<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/RolfeReturns.jpg"></font>

<font color="#000000">Obituary


<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/RolfeObit.jpg">

Albert<a href="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/Annou ... e.jpg"></a>
Last edited by ahaim on September 4th, 2009, 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 6th, 2009, 12:11 pm #4


From Richard Hadlock's "Jazz Masters of the Twenties."

<em>"Armstrong also admired the  straight section work of trumpeters who played in opposing bands at New York's Roseland Ballroom.
"Vincent Lopez came in there as guest one time," Louis has recalled. "B. A. Rolfe was with him, and he would play a tune called "Shadowland" an octave higher than it was written. I observed that, and it inspired me to make "When You're Smiling." [Louis recorded this tune in 1929.] The way I look at it, that's the way a trumpet should play. If something's supposed to be played high, you play it that way, or you play it in whatever register it should be. But I don't dig that skating around a note just because it's high." "</em>

More on B. A. Rolfe from

http://www.trombone.org/articles/librar ... ?ArtID=275

<em>It is very easy today to underestimate the influence of trumpet player B.A. Rolfe upon brass playing in general during the late 1920s.  Rolfe may be a forgotten figure, but he led a popular dance orchestra and was featured weekly on "The Lucky Strike Dance Orchestra" from 1928-1931.  This program became "Your Hit Parade" in the 1935 (without Rolfe), which was like a top ten countdown of the most popular hits of that week. Rolfe was very active in radio at least until the late 1930s, leading orchestras on many different programs.

I have not heard any Rolfe recordings, but apparently his specialty was to play melodies as trumpet solos an octave above the "normal" instrumental range, in a singing style.  According to James Lincoln Collier's biography of Louis Armstrong, one of Rolfe's features was to play a tune called "Shadowland" up an octave.  This was a huge hit with audiences when Rolfe played it as a member of Vincent Lopez's orchestra, and his popularity allowed him to form his own orchestra.  Collier feels that when Louis Armstrong was a member of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra playing opposite the Vincent Lopez band at Roseland in 1925, the crowd's response to "Shadowland" was not lost upon him.  At this point, Armstrong began showing off his high chops, taking melodies up an octave in the dazzling way that he did for the rest of his life.

I talked to older trumpet players as a kid, and one (Leo Prager) told me that B.A. Rolfe played "sweet solos" quietly into a microphone and had a very small mouth--so small that he used an oval shaped mouthpiece.  He was very influential because of his enormous radio exposure in the late twenties, and inspired many of the high note trumpet specialists of that era (for example, the 1928 Paul Whiteman recording of Coquette features Charles Margulis in a muted, high trumpet statement of the melody that must have been inspired by Rolfe).  However, the arrival of trumpeter Bunny Berigan on the commercial and jazz scene in the early thirties, with his enormous sound and high register ease, must have made Rolfe's playing sound very dated.

If the stories about Rolfe's style are true, and I'd have to do some research to verify them, then it is very possible that Dorsey was emulating Rolfe's success with quiet, controlled upper register melody playing on the trombone.  Because of Rolfe's importance to the music world of the late twenties, Dorsey had to at least be familiar with his style.  Further, it is clear from this article that Dorsey began playing in his trademark style sometime between 1928 and 1931, exactly the years that Rolfe was broadcasting each week on NBC.  

Rolfe was so important in the early radio ratings wars that Paul Whiteman and his orchestra were recruited in 1929 for a CBS program sponsored by another cigarette maker, "The Old Gold Hour", that was specifically designed to compete with Rolfe and Lucky Strike.  Whiteman had enormous mike fright, and his overcoming of it for The Old Gold Hour reflects the amount of money involved for Whiteman, Lorriard Tobacco, and CBS.

It is clear from this scant information that Rolfe was a powerhouse in the popular music world of the twenties and that his singing, high trumpet playing was heard by millions of listeners each week. Given that Dorsey thought of himself primarily as a commercial musician from the late twenties on, it makes sense to weigh the influence of the twenties most successful commercial brass player upon him, even if we no longer have Dorsey around to answer the question directly.</em>

Here are two of the three recordings cited above. I believe Lopez did not record <em>Shadowland.</em>

<em>When You're Smiling </em>

http://www.jazz-on-line.com/a/ramw/1929_172.ram

<em>Coquette</em>

<em></em>http://www.redhotjazz.com/songs/whiteman/coquett1.ram

Don Rayno writes, <em> Exceptional solo trumpet here by Margulis, who starts the record off in a mute, playing a high C. Seemingly without effort, he tackles that note repeatedly and even reaches for a D with no hint of strain. Little wonder that Margulis was considered to be one of finest lead trumpet man of the day.</em>

Albert
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Linda
Linda

September 6th, 2009, 6:35 pm #5

Thanks for link to Rolfe's "When You're Smiling" and information. For posters here who may want to hear Rolfe recordings there is a cd going to be released on the Diamond Cut label. I ordered the cd but haven't received it yet. Here is a link to information on the cd:

http://www.worldsrecords.com/cgi-bin/st ... 06-09.7424

In addition to the page on Rolfe's Lucky Strike program in that radio guide there is also a page on the Old Gold show:
(Interesting this picture shows the full curtain where other examples of this picture I have seen have the picture cut off or ending just above the members of the orchestra)





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Brad Kay
Brad Kay

September 6th, 2009, 8:19 pm #6

Announcement of the Lucky Strike radio program.



B. A. Rolfe at the Palace.

<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/Saga.jpg"></font>

<font color="#000000">More about B. A. Rolfe at the Palace.


<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/SweetJazz.jpg">

Humor. B. A Rolfe emphasizes humor as the center piece of his dance music. Just like Bix about jazz in his newspaper interview. Rolfe gives a jab to Whiteman (without naming him) in discussing the adaptation of classics to dance music.

<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/RolfeReturns.jpg"></font>

<font color="#000000">Obituary


<img alt="[linked image]" src="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/RolfeObit.jpg">

Albert<a href="http://bixbeiderbecke.com/BARolfe/Annou ... e.jpg"></a>
(in the above post, NYT Palace Theater review, third article down). Omigod, does that describe him to a "T." I'm ROFL*. See the restored 1928 Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields Vitaphone short (first song: "Hello, Bluebird") for an apt example of his accordionic pipes. George "Sugar Throat" Burns had practically the same vocal timbre.


-Brad K

*not a cryptic reference to B. A. Rolfe. "Rolling On the Floor Laughing."
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asstipjyz12u
asstipjyz12u

July 25th, 2016, 6:27 pm #7

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